How much is a finding a good tech worth to you?
Good evening everyone!
This week as I made my rounds as usual, one thing was slightly different than past weeks though. I had more shops than ever ask if I knew of anyone looking for a job. Each week there is a few that inquire, this week it was pretty much every one of them. I am currently working on an article that aligns with this so I thought I would have a discussion here about this.
So you are looking for a technician, what resources are you currently using? Are you happy with them and what do they cost? What research did you do prior to starting the technician search?
I ask these questions because these are the same questions I ask each shop that inquires with me about this topic. Typically I get the same answers of we put an ad on craigslist or indeed, I always ask how its working out for them after that. Today I had a great conversation with arguably the nicest most well organized shop in my area about this. They stated that the technicians indeed was providing them they felt were sub par. I then asked if they had ever looked into any similar services that were industry specific. They had but said the price was too high. So I posed this question to them and I want to pose the same to all of you.
What is finding a new technician worth to your shop? Is the price of a service that not only vets the technician but also does market research for you and helps you with your business at the same time a viable option? If the answer is no, then I would like to ask you how much a technician makes your shop daily after they are paid? I'm looking for actual numbers for this if you are willing as this will help with my research. I know it will vary by shop and location because of labor rates and that's okay. If you are willing please include your labor rate as well.
Next I would like to hear some of your stories about good techs you hired through one of these services and bad as well. Did they need a job or were they just "looking". Did you hire them from another shop or dealership? Also if you hired for a position because another technician left any idea where they went and why?
I want to thank any and all of you who reply to this, the help is much appreciated!
We use the usual listings indeed, Craig’s list also network with parts houses and tool venders . We pay 35 an hour for an A tech pay for training ,ASE certificates, pay.healthcare 100% 3 weeks vacation. If they turn over 40 sold hours a week they are given a bonus almost forgot we work 5 days a week no weekends. 5 Fay’s is enough we all need time to have a life and do things besides working. Makes a better work environment . We app our techs and work as a team helping each other and growing together. If the shop makes more money the techs and other supporting help makes more it is that simple. If there are any techs out there that are at the top of their game and they come to my shop they will grow and be rewarded for what they do. Everyone needs to remember that the overhead in a shop to give the perks we give is high so the production and quality of work needs to be there. If you have what it takes and want to be appreciated for what you do and paid for your ability come on down.
Tanner, I also make the rounds every week, I'm now hearing the next level of this issue. Since about the beginning of Dec. 2018, I now have been told by 4 shop owners that they have had enough and tired of trying to find a quality tech. All 4 of those shops are shops that the owner was approaching retirement age and no family members to carry on the business. They all would have liked to go about another 3 to 5 years but just tired of working harder then they ever worked and longer hours due to not finding a tech or in 2 of the shops going back over what their techs didn't repair correctly. One of the shops happens to be one of my former shops that I sold to my partner back in 1989, It was a GREAT shop that always had work. One of the other shops, was a second location for one of my friends and was doing GREAT, but due to staffing the shop, it was pulling key employees out of the first location and it was hurting that original shop. I really think it is going to get worse before it gets better. To make it even worse, I received my issue of Consumers Report a couple of days ago. There was an article related to Vehicle service, Besides a lot of other results of surveys, one of the survey of more then 40,000 people stated that the independent automotive repair shop had the highest customer satisfaction. I REALLY like that, but then it went into saying that the independent shops are far likely to drop their price when the customer asked. It stated that 67% of the consumers that asked, received a lower price, unlike the Chain stores and new car dealerships. If the shops want a QUALITY Technician, the shop must have a shop labor rate to compensate that QUALITY technician.
Price is the #1 concern with 75% of people from my observations. Likely why you see that type of data from the survey. 75% associate cheap with trustworthy. I aim to find the 25% that want it fixed right and end up getting it "gulp" cheaper, because they don't have to pay for all the cheap tire kicker/time vampire customers that are wasteful with shop time and drive up costs.
What is a “quality“ technician?? When shops say they can’t find one. What is it in a tech that they are looking for?
I think most techs start as g.s. Depending on your management, if your a good g.s they could want to keep you there. Then your forced to leave to move up.
Well, the next step is c tech, right. Well this is not a bad transition. But is every shop managers expectation the same when it comes to a c tech? How about b or a techs.
I recently made it to the A tech level. Two years in this position on the 15th. I didn’t know if I was capable but the opportunity was there and I had to take it , sink or swim.
Min these two years I think I’ve had two vehicles towed back after I worked on them. Nothing major either time. I focus on doing the job right the first time. It’s priority in my eyes. I consider myself very accurate in diagnosing and would rather say ”I don’t know” rather than throw a part at the vehicle.
I’m always learning. So I like to verify concerns by test driving before, and after to verify repair. I try to test circuits or at least check powers grounds and look for signals to become more proficient and have a better understanding of what I do.
it still seems that my boss gets frustrated tho. That maybe I’m waisting time or taking to long. He seems more ok with having to deal with customers coming back for the same issue and doing repairs twice or having to have them towed back because the repair wasn’t done properly. But as long as it’s really fast all is well.
I think that employers should have better conversations with the technician they are looking to hire. Not only do you need someone with a certain skill set to fill the position but you need someone whos brain works like yours, that you are compatible with. I work 10-14 hr days. The shop is my home
A good tech today is worth 35 - 40 and hour plus benefits and 3 weeks holidays. The pool is getting less and less. Many trades and jobs for that matter are getting harder to find quality people.
I know not what the answer is, but as technicians leave the pay will start to increase, but will the independent fall with technology and lack of skilled help? I think there will be less independent's and the dealers still standing as we move forward.
You have to steal them from the competition , find out whos good and dangle the carrots. Giving them hope and a future is also quite beneficial.(ie leading edge shop)
It's tough out there being an employer today ,lot's of bumps in the road as they say.
Working those long hours will eventually take it's toll on you. When that happens, what will you have to show for it? It is important to negotiate getting retirement matching, insurance, vacation and so forth. Having an equatable arrangement is important. When I was in my 30's working as a tech, I made some good money. I was making near six figures. I had energy and my body could take it. By the time I hit 40, I felt father time working on me. My sweet working arrangement quickly went downhill. I finally quit and went another direction. All this could have been avoided had I thought ahead and sat down with my employer to create long term plans. I should have mapped out where I would be at 45-65. I could then look forward to retiring and enjoying the good life. While it is a technicians market, I would seek out an employer that is willing to fulfill those needs. There are plenty of the "good ones" on this forum and maybe some near your market. Those of us who are older remember the days when getting employed as a technician meant taking what you could get and being happy for a job. Today, you have a real opportunity to plan for your future.
As far as taking your time is concerned, you will start to recognize pattern failures that will help you diagnose faster. Attend classes as much as you can. Spend time in the evening studying the areas where you see improvement needed. Eventually you will have the confidence you need. In Dan Sullivan's "Fundamental Electrical Troubleshooting" he makes a very wise and true observation. (paraphrasing here) In mechanical repairs the diagnosis takes a small amount of time and the repair takes a large amount of time. With electrical, the diagnosis takes a large amount of time and the repair a small amount of time. Usually the repair is simple but can be hard to find. If you take a long time but your diagnosis is correct, isn't it worth it not to have to explain to the customer how the IAC burned the PCM, relay box and wiring loom instead of there was a corroded pin in the engine compartment that was causing the engine to not idle?
thanks for responding. I guess I was venting a bit lol. The future is what worries me. It’s why I push hard to learn more. Im in my early 30s and can see that I’m physically slowing down. I see the younger guys able to keep going where I need to take a breather haha. So I must use my brain more. Side work is where I get to experiment. But with the hours it’s hard to get that side work in now.
But let me tell you the relief I felt as the last sentence in your paragraph made me laugh. Thanks
Bosses like yours are a major part of the problems. Would rather have "fast" than "good". Rather you throw parts than spend the time to diagnose the problem correctly. Most likely doesn't want to charge properly for the diagnosis, and is more comfortable charging for the parts instead. This is why the industry has a bad rep for repairs that don't fix the issue. It all starts and ends with management.
I am not an owner. I am the top diagnostic technician in our large shop. I can not speak as to how much the other employees are paid. I will share with you though what it takes to keep me there.
First a little about me. I have 30 years experience. I take EVERY training oppurtunity i can. I diagnose almost every car that needs it in our shop. Most days 15 plus cars. I think I have a decent handle on my job very low comeback ratio. I am willing to help the other employees and other industry peers. I invest heavily in my tooling. To the tune of close to 10 k every year including software updates on my tools.
I work a lot of hours mostly night shift. Most days are 16 hours long. I am paid time and a half over 40 hours.
What it takes to keep me there. Fair compensation that also allows the shop to profit and prosper. I am not going to throw out a number here but it is less than 6 figures per year. I am offered very fair health benefits that match all of the large companies in our area. I receive 2 1/2 weeks paid vacation every year. They buyback my unused time. A company matched 401 k up to 6 percent of my contributions. We all receive a very handsome holiday bonus. A small monthly bonus for increasing productivity over the same month last year. Being I do not demand an exorbitant salary I also receive a few perks. I use the shop when ever I need it. No side work just for my fun projects. I have the permission to sign up for whatever training I feel I need. I can purchase shop tools within reason. I have access to the tow trucks when ever I need them. I really have no set hours. Although most days if I am upright I am there working.
The most important thing it takes to keep me there. APPRECIATION. Simple. Thats what I want. The money is a necessity but I live in my means. Management treats all of the employees more than fairly. We are all appreciated.
Now to your point. What would it take to hire an employee like me. It would take a tremendous deal to lure me away. It’s not going to happen. But if I was even considering it one thing that would sway me would be the possibility of purchasing the shop.
So to the shops looking to hire a good quality tech. Be a quality shop. Perform fairly priced quality work with integrity. That culture will be easily visible to the quality tech you are looking for and most good techs are also good people and would be looking to join such a team. Promise security. Always a paycheck even when times are slow. No flat rate unless the tech chooses that pay plan. Work out a compensation plan that is discussed with the tech let them have some say in their pay scale and plan. Share shop numbers with the tech so they can appreciate it takes a lot of capital on top of payroll to remain profitable. Most A quality techs will get it. Offer good benefits that are in line with the other local industries that are looking to lure techs away from auto repair. Within reason give them time off even on short notice. Be appreciative. It comes from the top. If management truly appreciates the employees the employees will truly appreciate the employer.
Thats all I have. If you want specific numbers on what it takes to keep this A tech happy and what it would take to lure him away feel free to contact me privately. I am not posting that here.
Appreciation. So true. I think you hit it on the button in your second to last paragraph. Easy to see your wise and work those hours because you enjoy it. And your environment allows you to enjoy it.
We all need money, it’s why we all leave our house and go to work in the first place. But to keep a good tech and to allow your techs in general to be the best that they can be. The little things have to be there.
Its hard to find good techs and it’s also hard to find good employers. But eventuall like minds will gravitate towards one another. Just how life works
Chad you are correct I love what I do. My mentor told me one time he never worked a day in his life. He did not consider it work if he enjoyed it.
"I work a lot of hours mostly night shift. Most days are 16 hours long". does this mean you are working 16 hour days or the shop is open 16 hours ?
Shops open 24 hours 4 days a week. I work 16 hours nights Monday, Tuesday,Wednesday. 2 pm to 6 am. 6 Hours on Thursday 12 noon to 6 pm 12 Hours on Friday 12 noon to midnight. . 7 Hours on Saturday 7 am till 2 pm.
I myself have seen area shops hire anybody they could whether they knew how to fix a car or not and a few even hired uncertified folks just to have a body in the shop. This approach is extremely dangerous and unrewarding. A shop must know ahead of time what they can truly offer a technician way before a interview occurs. Have honest discussions with your prospects on what you seek in them and what you will do in return. Be aware money does not motivate all techs as some prefer to know they have input and are considered a asset to the business. So you want a A tech well what do your customer reviews look like. Some of the smartest techs I know check on their choice of employer before a interview and some also interview the Boss to get a feel if they are a good match. Top techs dont like moving around so if you are to attract top talent the best way is being recognized for doing things right and treating your people right at the same time. Techs talk to other techs and happy techs will be your best recruiting tool you can have. Dont say you offer top pay but fully know you dont. Be truthful and open with them and you will be surprised how they react. One big thing I hear alot is what kind of training do you provide your technicians. It isn't and shouldn't be a choice to send your techs to training. Cant send them all then send the ones you know will take away from it and share with the coworkers. Techs should not have to pay for the training either the shop should which can be considered a perk and shows the tech the shop cares.
A good tech to me would be worth $31.50 hr straight time. Shop rate $105 CAD now and may make me $350 per day assuming work was there and sold (Easier said than done). I would prefer to grow my own to fit my culture than have a service do it for me. It is getting harder and harder to sell proper repairs. I have been cutting costs big time just to try and eek out enough to make a profit.
This is from a slightly different perspective. CDPHE has a job opening for a diagnostic type technician right now. There are 6 of these positions statewide and do not come open very often. Here is the information posted:
Generally speaking, technicians that apply are very experienced but getting to the end of the flat rate environment. In the past, enough qualified applicants applied so that someone has been hired to fill the position so it doesn't stay open very long.
Tim Spurlock has posted this whole article on LinkedIn:
Here is a snippet:
"The cost drag to an organization saddled with technician openings is significantly more than just investing in a solid program and executing that program. An Association of Equipment Dealers Foundation study (2017) by William and Mary determined that it costs a company $1,000 a day for every day a technician isn't working. Simple math says multiply $1,000 times the number of working days a position is open. The average opening is 42 days, it costs more than $4,000 to recruit for an open position and another $4,000 to onboard a new hire (SHRM 2016).
$42,000+$4,000+$4,000=$53,000 to have an open technician position for 42 days. That's more than a full-year first year salary. We’ve had companies call us who have had openings for more than a year. I’ve personally spoken to people who have been looking for mechanics for five years."
And a link to the whole article: linkedin.com/pulse/diesel-m…
This is the HD industry... I think that his numbers for a 400,000 technician shortfall in the HD industry by 2025 are quite conservative. The costs are probably conservative as well.
Hi Jeff, thank you for posting that article. That is the exact point I was looking to make. Shops are getting to the point where they won't invest in help to hire, won't invest in training and also won't invest in their employees yet they will spend $16k on a scan tool that does half of what is needed that most of their techs can't use efficiently anyways. I really don't understand it, but I'm hoping to help fix it with the article I will be writing.
As you know I am in 30-40 shops a week most weeks. I am always asked two questions. One is what scan tool should I buy (We won't even get into that one). The other is do you know any good techs. When I inquire about pay, perks, etc. I always get " I pay my guys well". Well what's well I ask? The numbers these shop owners think is well is the same the local day laborer gets with no skill, training, outlay of tools, etc. There needs to be some reality. I have also seen a trend happening in my area that is disconcerting to say the least. There are many shops in my area that have gone away from the traditional one master tech, a "B" guy, and a couple of "C" guys. They have gone to all "C" guys that they use as installers and fire the parts cannon. The parts houses perpetuate this by allowing massive returns in return they get higher sales from these shops. The shop owner has a low payroll and his profit margin is high. When they can't figure a vehicle out after all parts have been exhausted they call me in. The customer suffers and the public image of "us" suffers as well.
The automotive repair business is littered with people that are drug addicts, have legal issues, and don't show up for work. I have one shop that told me recently "I have a really good guy he shows up three out of five days". Really? There are many trades that also have this issue. There are also some really great people as well. Unfortunately, the automotive repair business is broken as a whole. Has been for a long time. I have tried to push the rock up the mountain for years and I am getting tired with all the pitfalls.
As an industry we need to stop browbeating each other and act professionally. We are professionals aren't we? You don't see a doctor "dirting" another doctor do you? But, we do it to each other all the time. We need to show unity and present an united front. Many have rallied for this over the years. Myself included. I have often said that there was a litmus test years ago in our industry around 1985 or so when every GM vehicle had a bad MAF sensor. Mrs Jones would pull in with a stalling/bucking condition on her Buick Park Avenue and we go out there and act all cool by smacking the MAF to get it to stall right in front of the customer. We would then order a MAF sensor and charge no diagnostic fee. What we should have done is get the vehicle in charge a diagnostic fee, part fee, and installation fee. Again, I bring up doctors would they give anything away for free? We shot ourselves in the foot collectively back then and continue to do so today.
Until we start acting professionally we will not attract professionals to our business and will not be able to hold on to them. Would you want to go into an occupation that makes an average of 30-35K for entry level and spend half that on tools the first year? Constantly learning and attending classes. Physical labor. Having to know electronics, chemistry, hydraulics, etc only to be told at the neighborhood BBQ that your job is easy I saw it on Google or YouTube. Think about it.
I could go on and on about this subject with real world inputs from the shop level. The masses here on DN are professional and I apologize ahead of time if this offends anyone. I just tell it like I see it. I have never been one to hold my tongue.
I am new here and this is more of a rant to your question.
Unfortunately, has a business point of view its a cut throat business. Business owners are in the business of making money ,cutting labor cost and being more productive, also keep in mind that the south and northern states manage businesses differently for example labor laws and independent Contractors are different in each state. I would say that the automotive industry is broken, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Shop owners in our state are having a hard time making ends meet, the over head kills most of the independent shops you even have national chains like Just Brakes going out of business just to be purchase by Pep Boys and Jiffy Lube doing full auto service just to stay in business. Most bushiness look at what the market will bear mostly ten to fifteen dollar per hour in our region and if you work down south on the border states good luck but face it guys the old school mentality is still alive shops are looking at the bottom line. There are shops paying self contractors to work in shops here in Texas so that independent shops don't have to pay for social security taxes and federal taxes. There a little war going on in the parts industry that most shops are unaware of because i hear it every day, why did they charge me that much if i can get it on Rock Auto or Amazon cheaper the customer is a whole lot smarter they believe you can just YouTube and self in stall the parts. There are new shops that are compensating for this by advertising bring your own parts and they will install them, now i would never be caught putting a Dorman part on a BMW but unfortunately that the mentality that customer thing cheaper is better. shop owners and national chains do the same find a helper and we will trained them to change the part no brainier here that the mentality, finding helpers are dime a dozen here in Texas every one needs a job that the mentality in our region. There is no valve in looking for techs if the business can't changes its ways in how they view the Automotive industry. Like i said early in my rant there is light at the end of tunnel like any business supply and demand will be the turning point for higher wages and better techs and guys I am seeing it right now tech schools like Wyoming tech UTI, Community colleges are having a head time recruiting students in fact UTI stock is down the drain, Unfortunately thats good news this is whats going to change the market were baby boomers will be retiring and less supply of professional techs and vehicle manufacturing are increase more electronics in vehicles i believe businesses and dealerships will not have no choice in offering better pay, health benefits and vacation packages. I believe in the next two years there will be dramatic change in who we hire and how much we pay techs the day of the shade tee mechanic is over. Places like Autozone are not swapping much batteries any more wonder why, And if you ask Autozone to change your headlight on a 2016 Chevy Tahoe, iam sure they will be happy to send you down the road , 1234yf will not be sold to the public, so as the complexity increase so does the demand professional techs this is the only way in my view to get customers to and business pay more hang on for the ride because its going to get better.
Heard this in 1970, 1980, 1990 & 2000. Still waiting for it to come true. What’s different this time?
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my little rant, it looks like you seen it all in the last four decades working in the business. The Protocol has not change in the business but what has change in my opinion is Technology and it has change rapidly in the last decade. You need a higher knowledge of the vehicle systems then in the past, you need more tools than in the past so what we get is no return on investment no one wants to be a tech if the return on investment is not there, if demand goes up then the return on investment will be there when it does. just like other trades the demand is there welders, IT Professionals have a high demand. Unfortunately in the last fifty years the demand for high wages for a mechanic was low because any one can be hired and trained in to the field back in those days the average Joe work on there automobile has a hobby. Unfortunately Millennials have no clue on how to change a tire or drive standard and even change the oil i don't even thing they go outside and ride bikes anymore or play in the sand box so you ask What’s different this time (NO ONE WANTS TO BE A TECH). William I would greatly appreciated your input i do understand your long journey in becoming a professional diagnostician and your love for the trade I remember my mentor told me a story about himself being draft to Vietnam being send to hanoi province but was redirected to Germany to work on vehicles he did't know much about vehicles at the time and he was afraid to be send back to Vietnam so he learned every thing he could, his friends were not so lucky must of them died in the war. He would always tell me never disrespect the trade always learn the most you can. Thanks again William
I can’t agree more with you John. The beating blown of other techs needs to stop at every level.
I know what works for one shop will not work for all shops, but I can share what has helped my shop. My inspiration for the solution to the problem of the all illusive "perfect fit tech / need for a good tech" was taken from the tv series House M.D.. For fans of the show you know that House was a professor at a medical college all the while being the lead diagnostic doctor at the hospital on campus. He took the best and brightest from class and employed them to his team of doctors. He didn't even call them by their name when first hiring them he called them by their seat number from class.
Nine years ago I did the same thing. I began teaching at a technical college here in upstate SC. I'm not a full time instructor only adjunct. I teach during the morning and return to my shop for the afternoon to diagnose vehicles for the next day worth of repair. This has resulted in 4 positions being filled at my shop. This has also resulted in several of my shop owner friends to have positions filled. There is no way everyone could, or would, want to do this but it does bring to light what everyone can do. Get on the local advisory committee for local automotive programs. (I know this dead horse has been beaten here before so I will give it a whack also). You will have input guiding instructors as to what you need in a tech, but the greatest advantage is to network with the instructors, which is your direct line to future employees. Best part its free! It will cost you an evening once a quarter but even then dinner is provided.
No this will not fill an immediate need for an A or B tech but in the long run it may prove to be a more effective way to permanently fill vacancies.
Well said Brian, I spoke to a couple shops in the Greenville SC area about doing exactly that. I am on the advisory board for Greenville Tech.